Instead of traditionally traveling the world, photographing the sights with a camera as he roams, Fabian Rook accumulates different snapshots via the comfort of his own home – with the help of his computer and Google. His photographic series is the result of entering key place names into his search bar and documenting where he ended up. By using the online digital tools of these search engines and satellite images to produce Fine Art, Rook is questioning the role of authenticity in image production and selling.
His photos are not dissimilar to those of landscape photographers Stephen Shore and Joel Sternfeld, but have a much different intention behind them, and another way entirely of being produced. Rook says this regarding his purpose:
“By reverting to the auto-produced landscape images taken by Google Street View and by not putting in an appearance of myself either as the author of an image or as an eyewitness, I highlight the meaning of the authorial and witness role in the production of photographic images.” (Source)
He not only exhibits Google-sourced landscape images as the finished project, but also superimposes elements from photojournalism and changes our understanding of what a place is. For example, he takes scenes of protesters from Iran and Greece and replaces them in a new setting of Sao Paulo. Or the street kids we see could either be playing together on the street, or running away from some authoritarian figure. Rook goes on to say:
“The locations and details converge and are exchangeable, while the pictures have the same variability and arbitrary quality that enables the user to switch continent in Google Streetview with a single mouseclick.” (Source)